CHARLOTTE, NC, September 4, 2014 – Now that the Islamic State has awakened the sleeping giant of the West, it is time for the West to decide how to deal with the new problem it faces.
Western views of ISIS and Islamist extremism are inaccurate. The general consensus seems to be that because the new bad boys on the block are so much worse than any other terror group we have witnessed in the past, that destroying them will ultimately provide the solution to Islamic extremism.
That is as far from reality as it can get.
What the Islamic State has accomplished is a sense of fear throughout many regions of the Middle East that are normally immune to the threats of Islamic jihad. Among the most concerned is Saudi Arabia, which historically was the source of what was previously regarded as the most severe strain of Islamic beliefs. Wahhabism is the strict adherence to the Prophet Muhammad’s ideology that was used by the House of Saud to unify the tribes of the kingdom in the middle of the 18th century.
The sense of fear that runs today throughout the region is that ISIS’s agenda is far more intense than any earlier incarnation of terror. By comparison, the traditional threats to which the world has been accustomed now seem tame when measured side by side.
Therein lies the potential for error in the West. Eliminating the Islamic State will not erase the basic goals of Islam. The baddest of the bad may be gone, but the old elements will still remain.
Muslim extremism revels in the concept of victimization. The goals have not changed in 14 centuries. Time has always been an asset for the religion. When the rest of the planet periodically wearies of conflict, the Muslim world thrives because Islam is a hate based religion.
Hatred is considerably easier to manage than harmony, especially when its foundations are based within poverty and ignorance. Radical Islam needs perpetual conflict in order to survive.
Some analysts say the Islamic State has no relationship to even the most fanatical elements of Islam. Others dispute the use of the term “state.”
That may or may not be accurate, but it matters little.
ISIS’s primary purpose at the moment is to make the West sit up and take notice. So far they have accomplished that goal.
Europe in particular is as responsible for the rise of ISIS as anywhere in the world thanks to its recent history of political correctness in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and other countries, including the United Kingdom.
The United States is complicit because of our foreign policy weaknesses, especially during the six years of the Obama administration. Making public statements such as “we have no current strategy” in dealing with the Islamic State only exacerbates the problem by adding fuel to the conflagration. If nothing else it emboldens ISIL to continue its present course of action.
Some countries in the Middle East are fearful of ISIL because it is a loose cannon that defies the traditional Islamic practices of even the most hardcore Muslim societies. Even Islamic countries who have been defiant to the West in the past seem incapable of dealing with the threat internally.
That may result in some temporary alliances between the West and the Middle East to combat the problem, but the West should take advantage of any such collaborations to begin to understand the enemy we will continue to confront when the Islamic State is gone.
The worst thing the West can do is get lulled into a false sense of security that all will be right with the world the day that ISIS disappears. It will not.
Now is the time to take advantage of any opportunities for alliances with Middle Eastern countries threatened by their rogue neighbors no matter how fragile or temporary.
Carpe diem. Seize the day. It’s a golden opportunity upon which the West should capitalize.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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